Fairphone’s people-first approach to mobile-phone design is turning the telecommunication industry on its head. The company is proud of its innovative phone design, and rightly so: it’s the world’s very first ethical and modular smartphone. In fact, Fairphone is actively campaigning to make cobalt mining more transparent and less exploitative (cobalt is a material that’s used in the lithium-ion batteries used to power most electronics.)
The company has done a number of things to improve cobalt sourcing; on top of this, Fairphone devices are designed to last and are made exclusively with fair materials. The company even sells off its spare parts and offers a take-back programme for used Fairphone devices – helping the world move one step closer to the circular economy. The business is one of Europe’s fastest-growing startups and secured funding of over €6 million last year alone.
Land Life Company
The awesome agricultural aficionados over at Land Life Company have one major mission: to restore our planet for the next generation. They’re doing this with their innovative planting technology, COCOON, which is a sustainable, scalable and cost-effective method of planting trees and plants in dry, degraded soil. The company’s tech has already helped restore ecosystems in communities across the globe – including in Chile, China and Zambia.
And Land Life received series-A funding of €2.4 million in 2017, which will help it power towards achieving its ambitious goals. “We invested in Land Life because we believe in creating value that is both good for the world and for business,” said Alan Chan, a co-founder and managing partner of VECTR Ventures. “Land restoration plays a critical part in reversing many of the world’s largest problems, and we are proud to support Land Life in this goal.”
The name of the game for GreenHome is combatting climate change. General political – ahem – confusion aside, it is a very real problem, and we’re the first generation to experience its consequences. In the Netherlands, residences are responsible for around 20% of the country’s C02 emissions, which is mainly due to the fact that many households are still powered by fossil fuels. Using open satellite data, GreenHome gives its customers personal advice on how to make their homes more sustainable.
EcoChain Technologies advises businesses on how to make their business processes faster, more effective, more efficient and – most importantly – more sustainable. Put simply, it gives companies the tools and tech they need to properly understand sustainability. EcoChain’s cutting-edge activity-based footprinting (ABF) software utilises data to measure energy and material use, calculating environmental impact at every level. This gives customers detailed insights on where there’s room for improvement.
EcoChain has already worked with many high-profile customers, including ABN AMRO, which they recently teamed up with to help the bank achieve its goal of financing at least €1 billion in circular assets by 2020. “It works both ways: sustainable operations are good for the climate and almost always result in more efficient operations and higher financial returns,” explained Sander van Wijk, ABN AMRO's head of sector advisory. “Plus, the investments made can be financed at attractive rates; this initiative links up perfectly with the active role we want to play for our clients as a sector bank.”
Plastic Whale is the first professional plastic fishing company in the world, aiming to make the world’s waters completely plastic-free. With a fleet of 10 boats – each one made from plastic from Amsterdam’s canals – the startup proudly cleans waste plastic from the Netherlands’ waterways. The company even organises team-building exercises for other companies to help clean up the environment.“When I returned to Amsterdam after travelling around the world, I decided to do something to fight ‘plastic soup’, which is often portrayed as a faraway problem,” said Plastic Whale's founder, Marius Smit. “But what is floating around in oceans usually comes from our cities, so I wanted to start from my own backyard. In 2011, I published a social media challenge to build a plastic boat. Right off the bat, my network exploded. Designers, PR agencies and recyclers wanted to donate either their skills or money to get the project off the ground. It was great to see so many people using their individual talents to contribute.”